Will The Sky Fall if I Publish This Post? – Anxiety and Parenting

Adventures of a Subversive Reader: Anxiety in Parenting

There’s a lot to worry about when you’ve got children. You’ve got to worry about how they’re doing when you’re pregnant and how you’re going to cope with the birth. You’ve got to worry about whether you’ll be able to feed the way you want and whether the baby will put on enough weight when you leave the hospital. Whether they’ll react to the vaccinations and if that weird thing they’re doing is something wrong or just a normal developmental stage. When to start swimming lessons, music lessons, sky diving lessons . . . it’s easy for it to all build up.

So how does that affect you when you have anxiety?

I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder with a healthy dose of Social Anxiety. I was diagnosed with this about 7 years ago, although I’ve probably had it most my life, and I went through cognitive behaviour therapy to deal with it. I’m not on any medications, and I look after myself through relaxation and mind exercises, being aware of when things are building up, and trying to keep in general good health. There have been periods which have been very dark, when anxiety slips into depression, but probably 90% of the time, things are very manageable.

But how does it affect me as a mother?

Well in some ways, not as much as I thought it would. Some of that has to do with the parenting style Mr Pilot and I have chosen to get us through Squirm’s infant years. We don’t fuss about sleep or routines (partly because we haven’t needed to and partly because we’re aware that babies march to their own little drum corp). We’ve tried to simplify our lives as we’ve become parents and that’s contributed to a bit more calm. It’s also easier because we’ve been very blessed to have a healthy child, who is generally pretty happy.

But there are some times when the anxiety makes things very hard. I worry myself into a state at times, and need to check immediately that Squirm is ok. I had horrific nightmares that I’d lost him in the early days and would wake up searching for him. I get overly worked up over things which do not impact directly on me – debates like cry it out and breastfeeding. I also have a lot of trouble driving to new places – which has definitely been challenged by the library tour!

Then there’s my little strain of social anxiety which makes it very hard to interact with people and to use the telephone. I worry a lot about what people are thinking about me, so I’ll put off making connections with other people in case I look stupid. I hate the telephone because I think I sound stupid, which makes it very hard to make appointments or set up things like lessons. And then, if I feel something has gone wrong I worry over it again and again.

I don’t want my son to see me as an anxious person. I want to be brave, to try new things, to be willing to set out and make things happen. I need to live in the moment, rather than worrying over what happened or what might happen in the future. It’s difficult, it takes a lot of brain work, and a lot of inspiration – sometimes from the strangest places. But I’m going to do my very best not to let the worries take control of my parenting.

Have you experienced anxiety as a parent? How do you deal with it?

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27 comments

  1. I have experienced anxiety as a parent. I think only a robot would not experience anxiety as a parent. The social anxiety would make things even harder. I get bouts of social anxiety but have been become better at managing them. I need to get around other people, outside the house to get relief. Isolation can make me sicker. I consider it getting out a must for my personal wellness. I wonder if there is something small you could start up doing. Like taking the kids to the library. Whether or not you talk to anyone, it is still getting a break and not letting yourself isolate. Maybe just a walk around the block? Start with baby steps and work your way up. Even if you have trouble talking on the phone or in person, it is a lot easier bywriting isn’t it?:)

    1. I’ve developed a pretty good way of getting out and getting around the anxiety – we go to at least one library each week and are involved in the Australian Breastfeeding Association with meetings twice a month. I suppose it’s the things we can’t avoid – like some phone calls – which make anxiety and parenting the hardest.

  2. I have telephone issues too! Thank goodness for electronic communication eh? Sounds like you are doing a fantastic job of pushing yourself towards new challenges and being aware of ways to manage your feelings. Squirm has a smart and devoted Mum – that counts for a lot!

  3. I am overly anxious about things. My mother has massive anxiety about everything. I use that as a way to keep my behaviour in check. I don’t want to be that person (and it’s much easier to see nutty behaviour in others than in yourself, so when she goes over the top, I make a mental note never to think like that).
    But not all anxiety is bad, you can use it to over prepare, and that can make life easier.
    I think it helps to have someone in your life who’s the other end of the spectrum – it pushes you a little back into normal levels…

  4. I am concerned that when i become a parent that I will be that over protective anxious mum – I am bad enoug with myself. I think though, you summed it up perfectly – you are doing the VERY best that you can, and that is all you can do xx

  5. I am always worrying about how others perceive me. Which is stupid because it is not like I change or have any control over that. People will always see only what they want to. Fairy wishes and butterfly kisses lovely

  6. i suffer from anxiety and depression, cannot bear to use the phone except to call closest friends and family (can receive calls fine though) and work constantly at what you describe in your last paragraph – letting go of the past, stay in the present and stop getting caught up in the what ifs and might happens of the future. it takes effort and i work on my kids as well as they both exhibit some anxiety issues.

  7. The first few weeks of Mia’s life, probably the first 6 or 7 I was a ball of anxiety. I really struggled with the fear that I was doing everything wrong and that the things I was doing were going to ruin her for life. I spoke a little about it on the blog, but for the most part I kept the feelings to myself and I don’t think it helped the situation.

    They really don’t tell you that from the moment you get that positive pregnancy test that the rest of your life is going to be based around worrying, and no matter how hard you try not to, there will always be those worries and seeds of doubt in the back of your mind.

    I’ve slowly been coming to the realisation though that there isn’t much I can do that will mess Mia up immensely and I am learning to trust my instincts more and more. It’s hard, but I am trying to relax as much as I can now, and train my mind in new ways of thinking now so that when the new baby comes I’ll remember not to stress as much and to just take each day as it comes.

    #teamIBOT was here

  8. I don’t have anxiety, but I can relate to some of this. I often worry about what people are saying, and if I make a mistake, I really struggle to let it go. I can see the same tendencies in one of my kids, so I’m trying to work on it myself, but it’s not easy :(

  9. That’s very brave of you to publish. Well done. And I think people will only think more of you for opening up your vulnerabilities. I know I do. While I was dreaming the other night, my mind started to shout at me to wake up, and I forced myself out of my sleep. I need to check on Bee right away (and since she sleeps about a foot from me, it wasn’t hard). I could see she was sleeping on her back, but I still had to get up to check on her. I touched her forehead, it was cold. I picked up her swaddled arm, and it was floppy. I woke Mr Banya up in the biggest state of panic, only to be reassured by a little grunting sound that she was indeed just fast asleep. Took me about half an hour for my heart to stop beating wildly so I could calm down enough to go back to sleep….

  10. I think parenting go hand in hand with some sort of anxiety – it is a reflex to worry over our children and worry whether we are parenting them the “right” way – whatever the “right” way is
    You are a very brave person to hit publish on this post and I think you are doing an amazing job writing this blog and taking us on your great library tour!
    I hope that the clarity you have shown in this post transcend to shed some clarity in your fight against your anxiety
    Sending you lots of virtual hugs
    Josefa from #teamIBOT

  11. Thanks for sharing this! I struggle with anxiety. I shared some of my experience with this in “A Study of Contradiction’s” new mum confessions. Honestly, my truth is ugly. I admire you for managing your symptoms with CBT and mindfulness exercises. I resort to medication. I can also relate to the finding new places thing- although Sat Navs make this doable for me. I wish you all the best with this… For what it’s worth, I think Squirm doesn’t care about your anxiety – he’s too busy basking in his mother’s adoration x

  12. As a parent I don’t recall any anxiety but going through menopause now I am having big issues with anxiety. The hardest part is that it is in situations that I have been doing for years – driving, going to work, going to shopping centres – so hard to deal with. I am seeing a psychologist who has given me some techniques / meditations to practice and they do help.
    All the best in managing this – I have learned that it is not bigger than me – I am bigger than it !
    Have the best day ever !
    Me
    #IBOT visitor

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